Stepping into the Workforce after Your Diploma

Heading into the workforce right after graduation from polytechnic? Here is a guide on how you can start your professional journey on the right note to launch your career.
Anne Grace Savitha
Writer, gradsingapore
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Taking the leap from the campus to the corporate world is not easy. In a completely new environment, you will have to begin from square one. There will some questions on your mind. How will you cope with the change of environment? Will you be able to bond with my co-workers? If you have already made up your mind to work right after your diploma, these tips will be essential for you.

1. Take the initiative to know your colleagues

The ability to interact well with your colleagues is important as you will need their support through the course of your work, especially when you encounter difficulties or need help. Similarly, they need your support in the same setting. Forging good relationships in the workplace is crucial so that you will feel supported in whatever you do.

Break the ice by making friends with your desk mates or those sitting closest to you. Get to know them and their roles, although it may differ from yours. This helps you to understand the company’s varied functions and learn about another field of work. Don’t be shy to strike up a conversation­­­ — start by greeting your colleagues when you see them and see where the conversation leads.

If you are invited for lunch, accept the offer and mingle with your colleagues. Relating well to your colleagues is key to enriching your work experience — you get to develop a sense of belonging to your workplace while enjoying your work load!

2. Be willing to accept mistakes

Despite knowledge gained from your course, internship and other previous work experiences, we are bound to make mistakes in the course of work as long as we are trying new things and challenges. Your job can take a toll on you in the beginning as you adapt to the industry and are exposed to new areas of work. Be open to the fact that you are new and will make mistakes during your assignments — take note of the mistakes which you are prone to, and don’t repeat them the next time!­

Also, as a junior employee, some assignments will be new to you. However, with time, coaching and effort, you will get the hang of it and master the art of doing your tasks well. Be willing to explore and take on new tasks. Learn as much as you can from your experiences and mistakes.

3. Ask questions when in doubt

Being fresh from school, there is much knowledge and skills in the industry that you will yearn to acquire.  Seek help from your co-workers when you need to. You can do your own fact-finding and research first, think through the issue on hand, and come up with strategic questions for your co-workers to guide you on. Your seniors in the workplace will be willing to help you, understanding that you are new and need help with figuring things out, and especially if they see that you are willing to learn and improve.

4. Seek feedback and growth

Maintain a positive attitude by staying open to feedback about your work. Take the initiative to ask for your colleagues’ advice and opinions on your output so that you can  get suggestions on the areas that need improvement. This is how you can get seniors with years of experience to share their feedback and tips with you, assessing where you stand and how you can grow.  

5. Learn to manage different working styles and personalities

At school, you may have had difficult group mates to work with for projects. In the working world, handling different personalities is part and parcel of any job. With empathy and understanding of various thinking styles and personality types, you will have a better idea of how to approach your co-workers and develop your own working style as well.

One useful tip is to always communicate your intentions and goals clearly, not leaving out the big picture or the finer details, to help the other party understand best. Should a conflict arise, remember that the task needs to be done and think of a win-win solution.

Venturing into the working world for the first time may seem daunting at first with much to soak up and learn. That, however, should not deter you from enjoying your work experience and building meaningful connections with those you come into contact with!